10 Ways to Build Trust in a Hybrid Work World.Nov 29, 2022
Trust is the most valuable–and fragile–currency in business. It is hard to gain and so easy to lose. 10 Ways to Build Trust in a Hybrid Work World
A PWC study shows that 71% of employees will leave their employer if they lose their trust in them. There's been a lot going on around that lately. Breaking people's trust can have irreparable consequences for a company.
Trust in a Hybrid Work World
The aftermath of the global pandemic and the new situation many leaders find themselves in, navigating the remote/hybrid work situation, have put trust at the core of their business and is challenging their relationship with their employees. A recent survey by PwC found that almost 70 percent of executives want employees in the office at least three days a week, while more than half of employees want to work remotely at least three days a week and almost 30 percent would prefer to permanently work from home.
Employees feel that their managers don't trust they are working when they can't see them at their desks. Managers agree. Studies show that two thirds of employers don't trust their employees to work remotely.
The difference in employer and employee expectations around remote/hybrid work will for sure offer some interesting dynamics and challenges in years to come, and there is no doubt that trust, or the lack thereof, will play a big role in it.
The Business Case for Trust
Trust is definitely good for business.
Research by Center of Neuroeconomic studies show that high-trust companies have 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, and 29% more life satisfaction, compared to low-trust companies.
A Watson Wyatt study showed that high-trust companies outperformed low-trust companies with 286 percent!
Among highly engaged organizations, 96% say they trust their manager, compared to 46% of the disengaged employees. And highly engaged companies show in average 19% higher productivity and 23% higher profitability, according to Gallup.
The consequences of a lack of trust can be significant, impacting employee productivity, engagement, retention, and ultimately business results.
Where there is trust, teams can pour all their energy into their work, collaborate effectively, move quickly, take risks, learn from mistakes, innovate, and perform at levels low-trust companies only can dream about.
Where there is no trust, team members are spending their energy on covering their backs, making sure to not make mistakes (by doing as little as possible,) and staying with status quo. These kinds of fearful work cultures are both bad for people and business, and they are the exact opposite of what Professor Amy C. Edmondson describe as a fearless, psychological safe organizations.
To build healthy, thriving high-performing organizations, trust is a must. But trust is not created overnight. The saying that trust is hard to build and easy to destroy is true. But considering all the benefits of trust, building a high-trust culture is one of the best investments you can make for the current and future success of your business.
These are some of the things you as a leader can do;
10 Ways to Build a High-Trust Team Culture
1. Have a shared purpose
If you haven’t yet, make sure to create a meaningful and inspiring purpose for your team. People who know why they show up in the morning, whether in the office or remotely, and have a shared purpose or mission that they can rally around, experience stronger bonds and greater levels of trust than those who just show up for the paycheck. Leaders who adopt a purpose-driven leadership style demonstrate, and receive, greater levels of trust.
2. Define your values
Define your team or company values together with your team. Or, if you have them already, make sure to keep them alive through stories and daily actions. Shared values and beliefs, when done right, guide team behaviors, shape culture, and ultimately becomes your team identity. A strong identity creates a sense of belonging and greater levels of trust. And studies show that this is irrespective of people working remotely or in the same office.
3. Humanize work
Be human, less formal, avoid corporate speak. Think of your team members as human beings, not "human resources". Socialize outside work sometimes, learn about each other as people, not only colleagues. When we show up as our natural selves, outside our professional work roles, we typically create more relaxed and trusting relationships. Remote work has actually allowed people to share more of their personal lives each other, co-workers getting introduced to each other's pets, families and sometimes… mess.
4. Share mistakes, aka learnings.
Create a safe space where mistakes and learning are freely shared and even celebrated. Those who never make mistakes have never tried anything new. When mistakes are seen as learnings, and failures are considered innovation and growth, people are comfortable with sharing their mistakes with others, so everyone can learn and grow. Whether remote or not, cultures of learning builds trusting relationships and make people more comfortable about letting others know when they make a mistake.
Share as much as you can as often as you can. If there’s something you can’t share, explain why. People who feel you are hiding something may make up stories instead. The better informed, the safer people feel. The more transparent you are, the more people will trust you and the information they receive. With remote teams, communication needs to be more frequent and deliberate. Never trust that what you communicate on email is understood the way you mean it. Talk to people too.
Don’t pretend that you’ve got it all figured out because no one has. Dare to be personal and honest about your vulnerabilities and shortcomings. Say “I don’t know”, “I find this difficult” or “Help me” when that’s how you feel. Vulnerability is not weakness; it is strength. By being authentic and showing vulnerability, people will only trust your more. Feeling frustrated about the remote/hybrid working situation? Finding it difficult to handle? Tell your team members. They may even offer some good advice.
Compassion, empathy and kindness are under-appreciated qualities in the work world. In a world of expectations, achievements, pressure and performance, remember that you're dealing with human beings, and human beings have feelings and challenges and ups and downs. Sometimes people just need to be seen, feel valued and supported. Empathy is the ability to feel what others feel, compassion is to care and want to help. Choose compassion.
Generosity is to give of yourself, without a personal agenda, caring more about others than yourself. It is to think of what you can give instead of what you can gain. When you're a Giver not a Taker, your generosity of spirit might confuse people at first, followed by new levels of trust. Encourage everyone to leave their egos on the doorstep (or in the cyberspace) and create an environment with room for diversity of thought, of listening and care. Generosity is trust in action.
This is a hard one for many, but don´t take yourself (or your work) too seriously. Nothing is that important. Look for the humor in situations, even when things are a bit serious (that’s when you need it the most!). Laughter makes people relax, it increases oxytocin and serotonin in our bloodstream and makes us feel happier, in addition to many other health benefits. Laughter also strengthens relationships, improves collaboration, and builds trust, so there’s no reason to not have some fun!
Start doing the things on this list– and never stop. Trust is created through consistent behavior over time. Do what you say you’ll do. And if not, let people know. Trust is fragile, but the more consistent you are, the stronger it gets.
I'm not saying it's easy, but I am saying that it's worth it. Make these 10 points a priority and you will soon have yourself a high-trust culture– whether you work remote, hybrid or not.
Trust is the third building block of the Corporate Spring Model, an extensively tested, science-based method with a holistic perspective on human motivation, organizational psychology, and group dynamics. Companies and teams that have implemented this approach has over time achieved significant improvements in employee engagement, retention, organizational health, and business performance.